Finding the ‘old you’ in the First Thousand Days

Blogger, Beth MacDonald from Baby Mac shares her tips for finding the ‘old you’ in the First Thousand Days of parenthood.

You know when you are pregnant and everyone checks in on you? You can be waiting for coffee and someone will ask how you are feeling? How long to go? Every night care, love and concern come from your partner as they make sure you are rested and feet up, doing ok. 

But the actual minute that your newborn baby enters the world, the spotlight and focus on all that care and attention shifts (quite rightly) onto them. I remember getting stitched up post-episiotomy, post placenta delivery, and looking over at my husband and new baby and how happy they were, and wondered what in the ACTUAL just happened and hello! I’m over here! But it’s no longer about you, oh no, that baby is where it’s at.

And for me? Well, that adjustment took some time. Of course, it should be about this miracle and wonder that has arrived to completely change your life forever. But I think for the first time Mum in particular, from the moment that baby is delivered, the world as you know it shifts. And for me, a shift in trying to work out who I was now, what my role was, and how to be good at it right away, through physical and mental exhaustion, took its toll.

No one asked about me anymore.
No one checked in about how things were heading down there.
I had literally NO clue what I was doing.
And I was doing it on little to no sleep.

Sheesh, no wonder those first few weeks are so hard!
Blogger Beth Macdonald holding her baby
That total shift of identity, role and purpose, as well as (possibly) over informing and educating myself with books, videos, conversations, and of course comparing, whilst dealing with breastfeeding, no sleep and surging hormones, can make you wonder just exactly where that fun person you used to be has gone. 

It’s really hard.

For me, to be able to be the best version of this new “Mum Beth” I found that I had to tap into the parts of “old Beth” that made me happy. 
Here are four practical ways I tried to feel like “old Beth” again in those first thousand days of parenthood.

1. Lowered expectations

This one is very simple and very important. I am someone that likes to be in control and doing a good job all of the time. It’s who I am, it’s how I am wired and it’s not likely to change anytime soon. But anytime I tried to revert back to my old pre-baby standards I made myself mad. Or back in bed with exhaustion or mastitis. 

So, by baby two and definitely by baby three, I knew these standards and expectations had to drop. For a little while at least. For my sanity and those that had to live with me. Don’t make that bed. Don’t unpack that dishwasher. Don’t stress about the mess. If the one thing you get done today is having a shower then go you! Or getting the baby into the car seat whilst dropping the toddler to daycare I say bravo! 

The lower the bar, the easier it is to jump over, and if you get something done, and done well, rather than ALL the things you normally would, you can feel good that you did that.

2. Make time for YOU 

Now, this elusive “me time” in these first few weeks can be as simple as a shower. Or changing your pad for the 34th time that day. It’s not glamorous, it doesn’t involve champagne or facials, but any solo time can be golden when your day is ruled by a clock and routine of feeding, settling, rinse & repeat. A trip to the supermarket can be magic! Radio up FULL BALL. As many chocolates as you can eat on the way home. Reading a book. Sitting outside in the sunshine. These simple acts that you once took for granted can make all the difference in the early days and remind you again that you are still in there, somewhere.

3. Call on your village 

You know how you are always a good friend or family member? Now is your time to call in something in return. With baby number one, I never wanted to ask for help because I just thought that everyone got on with it. 

Sure, I almost lost my mind in the process, but on I went, pretending all was ok. “I’m fine! All good!” Narrator: THINGS WERE NOT GOOD. 

I wish I had asked for more help. Wish I had asked for people to drop off food. Wished I had asked for friends to just come and hang out with me and tell me about their interesting lives. Wish I had told people to talk to ME and not just the baby. Wish I had asked friends to mind the baby so I could go out for a while. Or sleep. 

People want to help! Just ask, they will always say yes and in the meantime, you might get a cuppa or a laugh with a friend that reminds you of life outside newborn baby land.

4. Back yourself

As an adult, you have probably made decisions that up until this point have served you well. Leave this job. Work hard for that one. Marry him and definitely NOT him. Your gut knows what is best for you and this is NO different with parenting. 

While it’s the first time at this rodeo, mothering is often instinct, and winging it. You know what to do. You know what’s best for your baby. You just do. Listen to it. Do it. Trust yourself. And back yourself. You’ve got this girlfriend, you really do. The one thing third time ‘Beth Mum’ would say to first time ‘Beth Mum’ is “trust yourself. You’re doing good”.

And finally, after trying to adjust to this new version of you as a Mum, know that this doesn’t last forever. But like when you have gastro, it still sucks when you are in it, even though you know it won’t last forever. 

Soon enough you will get the hang of it. The feeding will be better, you will adjust to living on no sleep. You will get confident in your skin as a Mum and have time again to be you again. 

Whilst the shift that comes with the first thousand days of parenting indeed changes us forever; a better, more patient and loving version of you will arrive, one that will teach you more about yourself than you ever thought possible. All because of that little baby that you grew and birthed. 

It’s quite the ride.

A button which you can click on to take you to a hub filled with information on the first thousand days.

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